SAN FRANCISCO — The Rhone Rangers organization will recognize the contributions  of vintner Randall Grahm with a new award in his name, after he is the first recipient of the lifetime achievement award.

Grahm, the founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard, was dubbed “The Rhône Ranger” by Wine Spectator magazine in October 1989. He produced his first vintage of his flagship Le Cigare Volant in 1984, an homage to the principal grapes of Chateauneuf-du-Pape grown in California conditions. The grenache, mourvèdre and syrah grapes for this inaugural vintage were sourced from Gilroy, San Martin and the Estrella River Vineyard in Paso Robles.  

Asked about this first vintage, Grahm said, “It was a different day in California, Rhône varieties weren’t exactly easy to come by and no one really knew what they were all about.Could grenache actually produce a red wine?  Syrah was grown in someplace called “Côte-Rôtie. That had to be blazing hot.”

An iconoclastic marketer, Grahm has introduced Rhône-style wines to the American public for three decades through proprietary labels such as Le Sophiste, Old Telegram, Clos de Gilroy and My Favorite Marsanne. Bonny Doon Vineyard recently celebrated the 25th anniversary release of Le Cigare Volant.

The Randall Grahm Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented on March 22 at the Rhone Rangers Annual Winemaker Dinner at the General’s Residence at San Francisco’s Fort Mason. Tickets are $150 each, and may be purchased online at rhonerangers.org. For further information,  call 800-467-0163.

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